Aboriginal people in Victoria have never ceded sovereignty and have long called for treaty with government.
Over 3,000 Aboriginal community members enrolled in this election and over 2000 votes were cast for Traditional Owners across the state. This is in addition to the hundreds of members of Traditional Owner groups who are or have participated in their own processes to self-determine representatives for their guaranteed seats.
The 21 provisionally-elected members were announced earlier this week.
More than 70 Traditional Owners ran as candidates to lead the first-of-its-kind Treaty discussions.
“I am proud that so many of our people put their hand up to lead this process,” said Treaty Advancement Commissioner, Jill Gallagher.
“There’s no precedent for this in Australia. Our Communities have so many challenges, due to the inter-generational trauma caused by the ongoing harms of colonisation. To have thousands of people be part of this vote given these immense challenges is a huge result.”
“We know that many of our people do not trust governments, and do not take part in government elections as a result. Not to mention when the process these elections were voluntary. Personally, I am inspired by the stories of people who had never voted before, but whose first vote was in an Aboriginal election.”
“I spoke with people throughout the journey who struggled to put food of their table. In that situation, significant structural change seems impossible. But our people were part of it in the thousands.”
“Internationally, this is comparable to the first ever vote to set up the Sami Parliament of Norway in the late 1980s,” said Ms Gallagher.
“The Norwegian Sami Parliament is regarded as one of the most robust and powerful Indigenous representative bodies globally, so these sorts of numbers mean that I’m confident the Assembly will get off to a great start, and only get stronger in decades to come.”
Assembly members are preparing for the inaugural meeting at Victoria’s Parliament House on 10 and 11 December 2019. The meeting will be streamed online for the world to see.
The Assembly will be the voice for Aboriginal people in the next phase of the Treaty process.
It will represent communities in setting – along with government – the ‘ground rules’ for negotiations, including how Treaties can be agreed in Victoria. It will also help set up the Treaty Authority, which will be an independent umpire through the Treaty process.
The Assembly is made up of 32 seats – 21 determined in a vote of Aboriginal communities in September and October, and 11 reserved for of the 11 formally recognised Traditional Owner groups.
The Treaty Advancement Commission was set up to establish the Assembly. When the Assembly is established, the Commission will cease to exist.
Tom Nightingale, 0448 213 186
Murray Silby, 0474 977 307